By ERIC FORTUNE
Conneaut coach Tony Pasanen hasn’t been entirely satisfied with the 2012-13 season when it comes to the win-loss record of his Spartan squad.
Considering Conneaut is replacing all five starters from a year ago, the results of this season might be as realistic as they could be when players are still coming into their own.
For some time Saturday afternoon, the Spartans were game matching the Brookfield Warriors before succumbing to defeat, 55-31.
“The season has been up and down,” Pasanen said. “We knew coming in there would be some inconsistencies. Everyone was taking on a new role. I’ve seen a lot of individual growth, but the biggest issue has been shooting which isn’t an easy fix.”
The Spartans (7-14) were able to answer a lot of what the Warriors (9-9) were doing on the offensive end with Lexi Zappitelli’s two 3’s matching Lauren Hawley’s 3’s as it was mostly a back-and-fourth affair in the opening frame with Brookfield holding a 14-8 lead after one.
Both Zappitelli (12 points) and Hawley (18 points) led their teams in scoring as much of their damage was done behind the arc. They combined for half of 16 3-pointers between both squads.
“We’ve struggled, but Kayla Boyer got going on a couple of games ago and today Lauren got going,” Brookfield coach Shawn Hammond said. “Danielle (DiCristofaro) shot well today, too. It’s been tough because of their struggles, but they kept working at it. They are good hard-nosed kids who keep trying, but it was nice to see Lauren get going.”
Boyer finished with 11 points and DiCristofaro had eight points.
If things were up in the first quarter, they quickly went down in the second quarter in the tune of 11 turnovers and just three field-goal attempts for the Spartans as Hammond had his squad start pressing.
“There are too many spells where we get timid,” Pasanen said. “I didn’t want timid turnovers tonight. As long as we were attacking and aggressive, I could live with the turnovers.”
Shooting wise it wasn’t bad as Conneaut shot 2-of-3 in the quarter, but Hawley was again draining 3’s for the Warriors as they built a 28-16 halftime advantage.
It was disheartening for Pasanen as he has been trying to set the goal of having his team stay aggressive. Early on, the Spartans were doing that and had success.
“When they went to the press, it kind of slowed us down a bit,” Pasanen said. “It in turn got us out of our aggression, but once we started making adjustments, we got a little bit better. I think this came down to us being young and having inexperience.”
By the end of the third quarter, the Warriors had climbed out to a 44-21 lead on 50 percent shooting. On the other end, 2-of-9 shooting was the downfall of the Spartans overall as they had 24 less field-goal attempts for the game.
“That’s the most frustrating thing because you can’t make an adjustment and become a good shooter,” Pasanen said. “It takes a lot of work in the offseason. With that being said, I still see us getting better defensively and doing a better job handling pressure.
“They’re growing as a team. The biggest thing is effort. These girls have not quit. We continue to get better. There is a lot of potential in the future.”
Fortune is a freelance writer from McDonald.